In 2006, we wailed when the Florida Supreme Court, on which sit perhaps some of the most left-leaning people in Tallahassee, summoned up dubious reasoning to strike down the state's Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provided vouchers to students to escape their failing schools for better educational opportunities. Now a pair of proposed constitutional amendments could restore educational choice to the Sunshine State. Amendments 7 and 9, if passed, would do several things: repeal the state constitution's noxious Blaine Amendment, which prohibits government aid from going to religious institutions; make public schools the primary way, but not only way, that Florida's students can be educated (thus overturning the Court's 2006 Opportunity Scholarship decision); and require school districts to spend 65 percent of their budgets in the classroom. (The last of these, in our view, is a dumb idea but voters seem to adore it.) Florida's NEA affiliate attempted to keep both measures off November's ballot by claiming that the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission, which sponsored them, had no right to do so. Tuesday, a judge disagreed--so it appears that Floridians will have the opportunity to vote on them in November. Past statewide voucher referenda in other states have generally failed, but the 65 percent solution is popular, and its inclusion might just make Florida's vote more competitive. We watch with interest and hope.
"Fla. Judge Rejects Challenge to Voucher Amendments," by Bill Kaczor, Associated Press, August 5, 2008